I've made two batches of chocolate chip cookies today, cookies that we will consume tomorrow at a family gathering with my in-laws. Why two batches, you ask? Well, you haven't eaten a meal with my in-laws, first of all, or you wouldn't ask. But that's not the real reason I made a second batch.
I made a second batch because I was wholly unsatisfied with the way the first one turned out. And that surprised me, because my cookies are remarkably consistent due to the fact that I follow the recipe and instructions somewhat religiously. For example, when the recipe says "Turn mixer to speed 2 and mix for 30 seconds," that is what I do. I do not turn it to speed 2.5 and let it go for what feels like 30 seconds. I set the microwave timer to 30 seconds and run the mixer until the microwave beeps.
(It's not that I'm opposed to modifying recipes, but you have to start somewhere, and it just so happens that this particular recipe absolutely nailed the type of chocolate chip cookie I want to eat, and so I stick closely to it.)
More on the type of chocolate chip cookie I want to eat, since it does pertain to this story: I want cookies that are thick and bumpy, lightly colored and not too greasy or flat. Don't get me wrong; I will eat and enjoy any well-made chocolate chip cookie. My friend Lisa makes flatter, darker cookies, and they're great! But if I have the choice, and as the baker I believe I do, I want my cookies the way I've described. This is why I prefer butter to margarine, incidentally.
Wow, this cookie post is getting long. I can hear the crickets chirping.
Anyway, I could tell something was wrong with the dough before I even added the chocolate chips. It was much darker than usual, and also much smoother and wetter. I knew right away that this would produce a flatter, greasier cookie, and I was not pleased. But I couldn't figure out why. I had done everything exactly as I always do. The only possible difference was that I used dark brown sugar instead of light this time--
Dark brown sugar! Could that possibly be it?
Well, I will tell you, that was it. Dark brown sugar had significantly changed the color and consistency of the dough. I know this is true because I bought a bag of light brown sugar and made another batch, and it turned out perfectly.
So there you have it, all you junior bakers out there. Decide how you like your cookies, and use the proper type of brown sugar to make your dreams into reality.